Aramaic Christians Under Great Pressure

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: December 19, 2008

Aramaic Lawyer David Gelen reveals in an interview with German daily, "Die Welt," the pressures Turkish authorities have placed on the Christian Aramaic minorities.

In the sixties, nearly 200,000 Aramaic Christians lived in South-Eastern Turkey. Today they amount to about 2,000, according to Mr. Gelen. He now fears that the last monastery as well as the seat of the bishop will cease to exist due to immense legal pressure from Turkish authorities. There are currently three law suits against the 1,600 year old monastary, Mor Gabriel. First, that it teaches the Christian faith and the Aramaic language to its students. Second, that the protecting wall (built during the waging war of Turkish military and PKK in the Nineties) would have to be torn down. And third, that the lands of the monastary should be disapproriated and given to the farmers. Part of the reason given by Turkish government is that the monastary was built over a Mosque years before; however, even Turkish media recognizes the fact that the monastary was built 200 years before the prophet Mohammed had founded Islam. Read the full interview in German on the website of "Die Welt":